Your Smile Depends On What Foods You Eat and How You Eat Them

Dentists do a good job of reminding patients that teeth need to be kept clean and food-free to encourage healthy enamel. However, preventing plaque build-up is only part of the story. Dental health goes beyond brushing to what foods we eat and even how we eat them.
You can prevent cavities and maintain dental health with the right diet. That doesn’t mean you can eat the right foods and never floss again, but it does mean that lifelong tooth health is a big picture, including both proper cleaning techniques and wholesome eating. As an added plus, foods that help your teeth also help you lose weight, maintain good digestion, or increase antioxidant levels. Here are seven foods that benefit your entire body – and your teeth especially:
1. Lean Meat: Lean meats like chicken, turkey, and lean beef contain high levels of phosphorous. Phosphorous helps your body absorb calcium and put it to good work keeping your teeth strong. Phosphorous has also been linked to healthy bacteria levels in the mouth. You cannot rid your mouth of bacteria entirely, but lean meats can help ensure bacteria stays within proper limits and helps reduce plaque build-up rather than contributing to the problem.
2. Yogurt: Yogurt has been linked to healthy gums and teeth, as well as fresh breath and a lower incidence of tooth decay in a Japanese study of young children. Scientists are not sure why yogurt has so many benefits, but suspect the healthy bacteria cultures it provides help control bacteria in your mouth, much like phosphorus. Low-fat, no sugar added yogurt is the best option.
3. Green Tea: Green tea is famed for its antioxidants. Scientists believe these antioxidants can add reinforcements to the natural cleansing properties of saliva, keeping your gums disease-free with the antioxidant catechin. The reduced inflammation catechin encourages leads to better periodontal health. Green tea also has a variety of fitness and whole-body health benefits. Drink it regularly!
4. Onions: Onions have both sulfur and quercetin, compounds that are responsible for its strong odor but also have health benefits. When it comes to your teeth, onions possess strong antibacterial properties and can prevent oral infections. In other words, lower bad bacteria levels mean less chance for gum disease or tooth decay. Unless you can gnaw on raw onions without consequences, incorporate onions into other dishes like soups and salads.
5. Celery: Celery is famed in dental circles, not for its chemical properties but for its physical attributes. When you eat a stick of celery, you have to chew thoroughly, which gives celery a change to massage your gums and wind its fibers between your teeth. You might need a toothpick afterward, but the result is a cleaner, healthier mouth. Eat celery raw (and patiently) for this benefit.
6. Apples: Apples have natural sugars that can be damaging to enamel, but they are also very juicy, which helps wash these sugars away before they can do any harm. These sweet juices also stimulate the production of saliva, which it turn washes away even more plaque and bad bacteria, leading to a cycle of positive dental action.
7. Cheese: Cheese has low levels of sugar and high levels of calcium. Calcium leads to stronger teeth, especially as adults age and begin to lose some of the calcium in their bodies. By maintaining calcium levels, you can keep enamel tough and even help your body rebuild it after damage. Cheese also contains phosphates and bacteria cultures that contribute to dental health. Low-fat milk also helps out…but cheese is a more popular garnish for salads and dips.
Foods to Avoid
This list comes up after most dentist visits, but a motivational reminder is always helpful. Any food that has strong acids can damage teeth, including soda and even citrus fruits like oranges. If carbohydrates are not washed away quickly, they can contribute to plaque growth by hanging out as bread, pasta, and chip particles between your teeth. Sugary foods and candy are, of course, detrimental to tooth under any conditions – hard candies are the worst, since they expose your teeth to sugars for extended periods of time. Avoid or at least balance these foods with healthy options to keep your teeth strong!

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